The Cookie Is Crumbling: Americans Demand Better Privacy, Transparency, and Control

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The ongoing debate surrounding the death of the cookie has prompted leaders in ad tech to reevaluate modern advertising practices and search for more privacy-conscious and user-friendly alternatives. Users are demanding greater privacy — including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used. In addition, Apple has diminished the retargeting connection through IDFA, and the rest of the industry has already moved on from cookie deprecation.

Thus, the cookie has been losing value and is seen by many as an invasion of privacy. While the death of the cookie will dramatically change the digital marketing landscape for good, new technologies will arise to take its place. Ad tech companies are already hard at work creating alternative technologies to replace third-party cookies or improve first-party cookies.

I believe the cookie should have crumbled years ago. It’s caused too many issues, and doesn’t represent people — it’s a mindless martyr. Instead, we as an industry need to focus on what’s next for marketers, advertisers, and publishers. Plus, we need to decide what the fair trade should be for consumers’ data.

We all have limited time and resources, so as an industry, we should focus on the future of consumer needs and preferences. We just need a place to start.

The Cookie Crumbled and Left the Consumer with More Choices

Third-party cookies have been slowly dying, and with Google’s upcoming destruction of the cookie in 2024, the cookie will officially crumble — and it’s about time. This move will be a major upgrade for marketers, advertisers, publishers, and most importantly, consumers.

Advertising with cookies is focused on data, but often devalues the customer experience, causing brand engagements to feel calculated and misleading. Instead, there needs to be a standardized, industry-wide opt-in option that places the power back in the hands of consumers. With an industry standard, consumers can control how much of their data they want to share, all while making it easier to make industry-wide decisions due to the familiarity aspect. In fact, many consumers wouldn’t mind sharing their data as long as there is a benefit or reward. A survey from PwC found 82% of consumers would share some type of personal data for a better customer experience. Emphasis on better customer experience.

It’s All About the Opt-in

How can we as an industry get consumers to opt in to these standards? Well, I believe we must partner up and create a way to incentivize the consumer. 73% of U.S. consumers are willing to share data for deals, and 65% are “extremely likely” to opt in to sharing their info if they receive exclusive sales in return. Whether it’s through loyalty and rewards programs or customized shopping experiences, the point is there needs to be a fair exchange for the consumer.

To make the exchange even more fair, we as advertisers, brands, marketers, and publishers need to be better at explaining to consumers what we do with their data. 55% of consumers want companies to explain how their data is used. Stripping away the negativity associated with data collection and personalizing the customer experience will encourage consumers to want to opt in. If we create an enjoyable and personalized customer journey for each individual, we will have more insight into and control over our approach, while also maintaining transparency and loyalty with the shopper.

The Call to Action

We are facing cookie deprecation, and although that requires our industry to pivot in the short term, we can use this as an opportunity to create deeper relationships with the all-important consumer in the long term.

Before the cookie crumbles completely, it’s crucial that advertisers, brands, publishers, and marketers diversify their data sources and consider partnerships that don’t rely on third-party cookies alone. Instead, we must collaborate with partners that prioritize contextual targeting and the collection of privacy-compliant first-party data.

At the end of the day, our industry must align on consent systems for data collection that are fully transparent and place the power back in the hands of consumers. We can do this by creating and embracing industry standards that offer granular consent and preference management options, and perhaps most importantly, by keeping the conversation around consumer privacy going.